Bengals’ defensive tackle Devon Still has spent much of the past year traveling between games and the hospital to see his little girl, Leah. She was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma on June 2, 2014, at only 4 years old. It’s been a trying year for the family, but through it all, Leah’s smiles and her dad’s photos of them together have been an inspiration to people everywhere.
Leah had surgery last year to remove the tumor, followed by chemotherapy, radiation, and stem cell transplants. On the way to the hospital for her surgery, Devon posted this heartwarming video that sums up Leah’s strength and sass in only a few seconds. Take a look!
A video posted by Devon Still (@man_of_still75) on
The outpouring of support from the community has been amazing. During the 2014/15 NFL season, fans and players rallied around the Still family. Sales spiked for Devon’s jersey — even more so after the Bengals announced that the proceeds from the sale of his jerseys would go to pediatric research. The New Orleans Saints’ coach purchased 100 jerseys. The New England Patriots bought jerseys for their cheerleaders to wear in a game against the Bengals, and then auctioned off the worn jerseys, donating that money to research as well.
From early September through October 20th of 2014, the Bengals sold almost 15,000 Devon Still jerseys — resulting in a check for 1.3 million dollars that went directly to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and pediatric cancer research.
I need some prayers sent up for Leah tonight! We hit a pretty serious complication from the stem cell transplant called VOD. They caught it early so hopefully it gives the doctors a better chance of stopping it from getting aggressive. As you can imagine our minds are all over the place but we’re going to try and remain positive! #LeahStrong #WaitingForTheDayEverythingReturnsToNormal A photo posted by Devon Still (@man_of_still75) on
In March, Leah and her family got the welcome news that the cancer was in remission! However, their joy was soon dampened when they found out that she had life-threatening complications in her liver as a result of her treatment. Leah went back to the hospital, where her medical team worked to bring her back to health.
When the anniversary of her cancer diagnosis rolled around in June, Devon got a tattoo on his back in honor of his little girl. It’s not finished yet, but what he’s done so far is incredible.
Then, just before the start of a mandatory mini-camp for the Bengals in mid-June, Devon got the fantastic news that the treatment for Leah’s condition is working! His darling girl would be able to leave the hospital in a few days.
This sweet, smiling girl is a such an inspiration to people everywhere, and the love she and her daddy share is truly beautiful. You can keep up with the Still family on their website, Facebook, and Instagram. Our hearts are with you, Devon and Leah!
“You watch these kids fight for their life: they keep a smile on their face. They never give up. They’re resilient. And if you ever watch that — like I’ve watched that for a year — it changes everything about you. It lets you know you have to make the most of every opportunity that you have.” – Devon Still
Quick bathroom selfie #ShesTryingToGetBackToHerOldSelf #LeahStrong #CantAnythingHoldHerDownForTooLong #EspeciallyWhenImAround A photo posted by Devon Still (@man_of_still75) on